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Mere Statement That Complainant's Political Support Encouraged A Person To Get Involved In Immoral Activities Won't Be Defamation: Tripura HC

Sparsh Upadhyay
21 April 2021 11:09 AM GMT
Mere Statement That Complainants Political Support Encouraged A Person To Get Involved In Immoral Activities Wont Be Defamation: Tripura HC
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In a trial for defamation, it is quite essential that the details of imputation containing the words alleged to be defamatory in the character should be precisely set out in the complaint itself… the accused is entitled to know what are the accusations with regard to the imputation made against him then only he will be able to answer the accusations and shape his defence: Tripura HC

The Tripura High Court recently ruled that mere statement that a person was providing political support to some person which encouraged him to get involved in immoral activities won't come within the scope and ambit of Section 499 IPC. The Bench of Justice Arindam Lodh further held that such a statement cannot be said to be defamatory or derogatory by any sort of...

The Tripura High Court recently ruled that mere statement that a person was providing political support to some person which encouraged him to get involved in immoral activities won't come within the scope and ambit of Section 499 IPC.

The Bench of Justice Arindam Lodh further held that such a statement cannot be said to be defamatory or derogatory by any sort of imagination as contemplated under Section 499 of IPC.

The matter before the Court

The petitioner, Subal Kumar Dey is the Publisher, Editor, and printer of the said publication (Syandan Patrika).

One Gora Chakraborty (Complainant), a full-time activist of Communist Party of India (CPI) had filed a complaint against the Petitioner alleging that he had been defamed by the publication of some news item published in "Syandan Patrika".

It was alleged by the Complainant that on 22nd September, 2008 a news item had been published in the Syandan Patrica against him and one Kajal Bhowmik with malicious intention and in that news a totally false and the fabricated story had been published against the complainant.

The trial court convicted and sentenced the accused-petitioner for the offence punishable under Section 500 IPC and Section 502 IPC, and being aggrieved, the accused-petitioner preferred an appeal before the court of learned Sessions Judge, West Tripura, Agartala.

The Sessions Judge, after hearing the parties had affirmed and upheld the judgment and order of conviction and sentence returned by the learned trial court.

Hence, the accused/petitioner challenged the said judgment and order of conviction and sentence by means of filing the present revision petition before this court.

Court's observations

At the outset, the Court opined that a person cannot be said to have committed an offence under Section 500 IPC merely because some articles or news items are published attributing certain utterances to that person.

The Court further held,

"Unless it is shown that the imputation or mentionable words had been used by the accused and only at his instance, the said objectionable words were published, the accused cannot prima facie said to have committed the offence punishable under Section 500 IPC."

Perusing the contents of the complaint, the Court noted that it was clear that the complainant had only stated that "news item as published in the newspaper of the accused has leveled allegation against the complainant for giving political support to one Jayanta Paul who was the worker of the concerned LPG Bottling station of Bishalgarh and with the help of that political support the said Jayanta Pal Page had allegedly started to create different nuisances and illegal and immoral activities in the said Plant during the office hours".

In this backdrop, the Court noted that in the entire complaint, there was a total absence of any statement even in substantial measures as to which part of the publication, and, what are those words which allegedly caused imputation.

"Thus, it is clear that the complaint lodged by the complainant could not fulfill the basic requirement of Section 500 IPC", remarked the Court.

The Court also noted that none of the witnesses adducing evidence in support of the complainant had stated in their deposition that the imputation made in the publication had harmed the reputation of the complainant directly or indirectly.

Accused right to know the allegations

The Counsel for the accused-petitioner submitted before the Court that there was nothing detail in the averments, either in the complaint or in the sole statement with reference to the imputation which was said to be contained in the article published.

He argued that both the Courts below failed to appreciate these primarily ingredients of Section 499 Cr.P.C. while returning the findings of conviction and sentence.

To this, the Counsel for the Complainant argued that there was no need to reproduce the contents of imputation published in the newspaper for the reason that those imputations are well-founded in the newspaper itself.

Having heard both the parties, the Court opined,

"In a trial for defamation, it is quite essential that the details of imputation containing the words alleged to be defamatory in the character should be precisely set out in the complaint itself the accused is entitled to know what are the accusations with regard to the imputation made against him then only he will be able to answer the accusations and shape his defence."

Importantly, the Court also held that the complainant of a defamation case was under a legal obligation to state the parts of the news item or publication that has defamed him.

The Court further opined that the accused had been deprived of knowing the actual allegation leveled against him to which he had to meet in course of the trial.

Lastly, noting that the entire proceeding before the trial court as well as before the appellate court was vitiated and the judgment and order of conviction and sentence imposed by the courts below was liable to be set aside.

Accordingly, the judgment and order of conviction and sentence stood set aside and quashed.

Case title - Subal Kumar v. Gora Chakraborty and another [CRL REV. P NO.02 OF 2018]

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